Is ABM Right For Your Organization? A Financial Services Point of View

If your title even hints of marketing, chances are you have heard of account-based marketing, a huge trend in the B2B marketing industry. Many marketing organizations are adding ABM to their marketing arsenal.

  • More than 70% of B2B companies have staff that are fully or partially dedicated to driving ABM-specific programs.*
  • 58% have a pilot or test program*
  • 41% have a full program in place*

Compare this to a 2015’s study which found only 20% of companies had full programs in place. With all the buzz around account-based marketing, and as a marketer in the financial services industry, you may ask the question – is ABM right for my organization?

I’d like to take you through a few thoughts as they pertain to financial services organizations:

  1. Account-Based Marketing is for Accounts

Not all businesses are well suited for account-based marketing. ABM requires accounts. If your business is centered around attracting individual investors, ABM may not work for your organization. For instance, marketing financial services directly to individual investors is difficult without drawing comparisons to a direct competitor – an ABM strategy.  But this is risky for several regulatory and ethical reasons. If you target investors, whether they work at a wirehouse or are RIA’s, you’re better off focusing on a content strategy that drives engagement than attempting ABM.

Other areas of financial services may be a better fit for account-based marketing. Most banks have both a B2B and B2C aspect of their business for instance. Your B2B play is to get organizations to finance. Demonstrating challenges and differentiating between your organization and targeting specific lending organizations is a great structure for account-based marketing.

  1. Account-Based Marketing Needs a Strategy

Many organizations rush to purchase the latest ABM tool. With literally thousands of marketing technologies springing up every year, it’s no surprise that this is an instinct for marketers. But ABM first needs a strategy. Your organization needs to look at a few key things to make sure you can handle ABM because it can be a large commitment.

When investing in an account-based marketing strategy, most organizations dedicate at least 1-2 marketing resources per 10-20 targeted accounts. These marketing resources work very closely with sales to help develop a strategy for each account, create content to use for that strategy and execute the strategy alongside sales, ready to make changes on the fly. This amount of work cannot simply be added to an existing busy resource in the marketing team. This is a long term investment that starts with the right quantity of available resources.

  1. Account-Based Marketing Is Fueled by Personalized Content

Of the financial service organizations that I’ve worked with, I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by the breadth of fresh, new, content they produce. This is an absolute must.  Content for financial services, like tech industries, thrives on the latest and greatest data. Content that is even 6 months old could be useless. In addition to freshness, financial organizations need messaging around compliance and regulatory issues which is different from less regulated industries. Data related content is dependent on the market, new regulations, indexes and other data.

When thinking about account-based marketing, we need to add two additional dimensions to your content strategy. The first is the account persona; this is the persona developed around the target account you have selected. This is above and beyond your normal personas and the buying journey we are assuming you utilize. The second is personalization; how do you personalize your marketing materials to fit the account persona? This may manifest itself as literally as co-branding material or as subtle as focusing on messaging that pertains very uniquely to your account.

Account-based marketing may be a hot trend within the B2B marketing industry, but it’s not a light undertaking. Organizations should do a thorough investigation to see if the resources and strategy needed to execute successfully are worth the investment.

* Data from published Sirius Decision research

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